Jeff Helmericks upgrades N4178
Hi Fellow Mite Fans,
N4178 is back in the air again after the summer off undergoing engine overhaul and some upgrades to the instrument panel and electrical system. As with most of my little projects they seem to grow in scope as the project moves forward. In the end the list of changes included:
Replacement or overhaul of everything firewall forward. The engine turned out to have a badly cracked crankshaft, I later found out it was most likely caused by an unplanned stop in a gopher hole. I think that is why there is the requirement to do a Magnaflux inspection on the crank after a prop strike. Bruce [Besse] had some unkind words for me when he discovered he had flown all the way up from AZ with the crankshaft cracked half in two!
Fabricate replacements for both fuel tanks - Hmmm, why does it smell like gas in here?
Replace all the fuel lines and fuel valve. A screw for the cowling was found to have worn a hole in the fuel line that had been patched with solder! The repair was worn most of the way thru by a another screw in the same hole. This is right behind the little heat shield just aft of the right side exhaust. Good thing to check real close at annual time.
Replaced the starter and generator with new lightweight B&C starter and alternator.
Replaced the old 25 A/H battery with a sealed recumbent gas battery mounted under the floor.
Installed a Whelen strobe on the belly
Installed a AmerKing ELT under the floor
Replaced all the tires with the proper size, 4:00x4. What a difference the right rubber makes, not so bouncy anymore.
Fabricated a new heat shroud, valve, and duct. Ahhh, a warm cabin and not a cooked right foot!
Fabricated a new instrument panel and replaced all the old gauges. In place of the engine gauges we installed the VM-1000 engine management system. It was the only system of its type that is TSO'ed. Neat little package, even has a fuel gauge for both tanks.
Replaced the old gyro horizon with an electronic EFIS, cool stuff, has 10 instruments in one little LCD display: airspeed, heading, altitude, attitude, G-meter, VSI, clock, skid-slip, turn rate, and volt meter. It even has an encoder for the transponder built in!
Garmin 296 GPS
Apollo SL40 comm.
King KT-76A transponder
Vertical card compass
Landing gear warning horn - for my friends with little or no retract time.
Re-bushed the nose gear assembly.
Re-coated the inside of the fuselage with epoxy varnish.
Repaired the bulkhead at the back of the baggage compartment, and the landing gear wells; fellow Mite owners, please don't use 1/8" wall paneling and Liquid Nails to repair a beautiful little wood airplane like the Mite, as someone in the past had done to N4178.
Now that it is done and back in the air, it all seems worth it time and expense - don't ask how much. I probably have the world's most expensive Mite.
Some observations with the new panel: The front cylinders run cold as ice, on the order of 120 degrees, while the back run at 325. After a good tape job, I have the front cylinders up to about 200 degrees - this is on a 40 degree day. You can see the CHT & EGT bars on the bottom left of the engine analyzer, because Continental numbers the cylinders from back to front, the 3rd and 4th bars are the front two cylinders, and this picture was taken after I taped up the cylinders. Fuel burn is 4.2, 50 degrees rich of peak, and 3.8 at peak, running around 22 inches MP. I also need to get the prop twisted a bit, 2380 rpm at 20.1" is a little fast for an A-65.
I have attached a few other pictures from today's flight. The glacier is up the Knik Valley north of Anchorage. The others are of the panel, the new engine and the micro switch on the throttle for the gear warning system. As I gather more data on the engine I will pass it along.
What's next? Real brakes!!!
10 October, 2004